Mid-Missouri could see 21 bridges repaired or replaced over the next three years, under the proposed bonding plan included in Gov. Mike Parson's budget, to improve 250 bridges around the state.
The work proposed in nine of Mid-Missouri's 10 counties would cost an estimated $25.782 million.
Parson's proposed budget — for the 2019-20 state business year that begins July 1 — would issue about $351 million in bonds to pay for the bridge projects, and repay the costs over 15 years, using $30 million each year from general revenue rather than using road funds raised through the state's 17-cents-per-gallon fuels tax.
The plan, if passed by lawmakers, would be the first time general revenue money would be used to pay for road-related projects, which in the past have relied on the fuels tax.
"While funded through our budget savings, it will give us the ability to begin immediate work on nearly 250 bridges across the state of Missouri — all in need of critical repair or replacement," Parson said during Wednesday's State of the State address. "By doing so, we will be freeing up nearly $350 million in state and federal resources allowing us to accelerate MoDOT's current list of state infrastructure projects."
Transportation Director Patrick McKenna said all of the bridges in the bonding plan already have been approved as part of the STIP, the Transportation Department's "Statewide Transportation Improvement Program" which covers five years of projects at a time.
Every year, the Highways and Transportation Commission adds a new year's work at the end of the five years, replacing the current year's work as it is being finished.
Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, a former member commission member, told the News Tribune the plan makes financial sense.
"When you repair a bridge, you typically don't get any match-dollars," he explained. "So, if we move the bridge repairs, which are needed all across Missouri into the bonding initiative, the money that was going to be used for those bridges could be used for projects that could get a federal match.
"So, you're able to parlay those dollars that you're going to use in the STIP to fund bridges out of the bonding program, then do the other repairs."
He called the plan "a good, outside-of-the-box" idea.
Osage County would benefit the most among the Mid-Missouri counties, with six bridges on the list.
Boone and Gasconade counties each have three projects, while Cole, Callaway and Camden counties each have two bridges listed.
McKenna said all the projects already have been planned for MoDOT's current five-year plan, and have been approved commission.
He told reporters last week that about 70 percent of the 250 bridges are in outstate areas, while about 30 percent are in the St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield regions.
"What you're dealing with is the number of poor-condition bridges," he explained, "and this is where the poor-condition bridges are.
"What this really is, is financial availability, that we can come back in and back-fill in the next year's STIP cycle."
As Parson noted in the State of the State address to lawmakers, "Missouri has one of the largest highway systems in the country, and since we sit at the nexus of the east and the west, this system receives a great deal of strain."
One project that's not on the bonding list is a replacement for the Interstate 70 bridge across the Missouri River at Rocheport.
"The Rocheport issue is one in the next couple of years — it's not needed this spring," McKenna said, noting approval of the bonding plan would make it easier to plan for building a new, $200 million bridge that carries a high volume of interstate traffic.
Kehoe agrees the bonding plan could "change the dynamics of some of those larger projects" like the Rocheport bridge.
Under MoDOT's current planning, the bridge, which carries two lanes of interstate traffic in each direction, would be rehabilitated one lane at a time — which could cause traffic back ups as far east as Kingdom City, 35 miles away.
But, McKenna said, rehabbing that existing bridge would extend its life by no more than a decade, while a new, $200 million structure could last for up to a century.
"I know that (MoDOT officials) are working with our federal delegation to do everything they can to change the way we end up repairing that bridge, to more of a replacement," Kehoe said.
But that planning can't come until after lawmakers decide on the proposed bonding plan.
Parson, Kehoe and McKenna all said the bonding plan is an investment in the state's future.
As reported by MoDOT, the Mid-Missouri bridges planned to be worked on using the proposed bond money, and the year the work would be done are:
Route H over Bois Brule Creek. Improvements in 2021. $857,000.
Route A over Moreau Creek. Improvements in 2022. $777,000.
Route D over I-70. Improvements in 2020. $1,694,000.
I-70 over Auxvasse Creek, east of Kingdom City. Improvements in 2021. $2,028,000.
Route HH over Hinkson Creek. Improvement in 2020. $693,000.
I-70 over Perche Creek. Improvement in 2021. $3,398,000.
I-70 Outer Road over Little Cedar Creek. Improvements in 2021. $1,093,000.
Route D over Minnow Brook Creek. Replacement in 2020. $1,640,000.
U.S. 54 over the Lake of the Ozarks. Improvements in 2021. $1,128,000.
Route N over Rogers Creek. Improvements in 2020. $526,000.
Route C over Deane Creek. Rehabilitation in 2020. $813,000.
Route CC over Medlen Creek and Burris Fork Creek. Improvements in 2020. $1,696,000.
Missouri 100 over Shawnee Creek. Improvements in 2020. $570,000.
Route D over Mistaken Creek. Improvements in 2020. $762,000.
Route N over Contrary Creek. Improvements in 2021. $1,009,000.
Missouri 100 over Deer Creek. Replacement in 2022. $1,916,000.
Missouri 89 over Swan Creek. Improvement in 2022. $698,000.
Missouri 100 over Cedar Creek. Improvement in 2022. $1,173,000.
Route A over Third Creek. Improvements in 2020. $1,296,000.
Route J over First Creek. Improvements in 2021. $1,015,000.
Missouri 100 over the Gasconade River. Rehabilitation in 2022. $3,512,000.